Lent Reflections @ CEC (2/29/20)
"As Lent is the time for greater love, listen to Jesus' thirst...'Repent and believe' Jesus tells us. What are we to repent? Our indifference, our hardness of heart. What are we to believe? Jesus thirsts even now, in your heart and in the poor - He knows your weakness. He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you." -- Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
SCRIPTURE & DEVOTION: Mark 1:9-15 (NIV)
At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted[a] by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
We’re looking at the Gospel of Mark during this season of Lent 2020. Early church fathers believe that this gospel was written by John Mark, the disciple who traveled with Peter, who was rejected by Paul for a short time, and who was eventually restored and accepted by Paul. It was likely written in Rome for Roman Christians – and has been described as the closest thing to a “biography” of Jesus’ life that we have. This book is action packed – using words like “immediately” and “then.” It’s a snapshot of Jesus’ journey to the cross. Mark does not include many details included in Matthew or Luke, but what it does include are details within each story that allow us to imagine being there – seeing the surroundings, feeling the elements, experiencing the emotions of the characters.
Mark describes the baptism of Jesus in a few short words. I have always wondered about this scene. What drove the people out there? Were they there to see a spectacle? Curious about this crazy man who ate locusts and was baptizing people in a muddy, yucky river. And on that day, did they expect to see the “son of God?” Jesus comes and asks to be baptized by John.
The heavens open – the Spirit descends like a dove – and a voice says: “You are my beloved Son, in you I am well-pleased and delighted.” (Check out Isaiah 42) I find it encouraging that God is well-pleased and delighted in Jesus BEFORE He has done any “ministry.” It is the same for us – we are sons and daughters of God – He is well-pleased and delighted in us as we trust in the salvation He has provided for us already. We are not what we do, and yet, like Jesus, we do move into ministry and service.
After the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, Jesus goes back to Galilee and begins to preach the Good News of the Kingdom: The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent (change your inner self- your old way of thinking, regret past sins, live your live in a way that proves repentance; seek God’s purpose for your life) and believe (with a deep, abiding trust” in the good news (regarding salvation).” (Mark 1:15, AMP)
Repent. Change your inner self. Your old way of thinking. Regret past sins. Lent is a time to reflect, confess and repent. Without Christ, reflection and confession can feel like condemnation. We often condemn ourselves for our mistakes, our failures, our shortcomings. But there is therefore no now condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. As we move through this season, we don’t need to fear bringing to light what we wish would stay hidden. Repent. Find forgiveness.
Let us trust in the God who delights in us as He delighted in His son. And let us move out into our world sharing the good news that there is forgiveness, restoration and wholeness found in Jesus Christ.
Jesus, we are grateful and humbled to realize that YOU delight in US. It is we who should delight in YOU! We repent for our lack of trust in Your goodness, in Your compassion, in Your grace. Help us to come to know you better in this season of Lent.